( dpa )- Tourism in the Asia-Pacific region is forecast to soar with nearly 500 million visitors arriving by 2010, generating 4.6 trillion dollars, an industry report said on Thursday.
The Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) said travel within Asia will account for two-thirds of all tourist arrivals around the region.
The report attributed the growth of low-cost carriers and the opening up of the aviation sector in many countries with creating more choices for consumers with rising disposable incomes.
China is a particularly bright lure. Nearly 49 million people visited the country in 2006, making it the fourth most popular destination in the world following France, Spain and the United States, according to the UN's World Tourism Organization.
The Chinese were also the sixth biggest spenders on international travel that year.
Events such as the Beijing Olympics in August and the World Expo in Shanghai in 2010 are also drawing attention to the region.
The report predicts growth of between 7 per cent and 8 per cent annually until 2010 despite the stock market volatility and uncertainty over a looming US recession.
"We were already aware of the sub-prime woes when work started so the report factors in a US economy in recession," The Straits Times quoted Professor Lindsay Turner of the University of Victoria in Australia as saying.
Among the trouble spots mentioned in the region is Sri Lanka, where a contraction in the travel industry is expected amid the ongoing internal conflict.
The industry has also been struggling to recruit, train and retain enough skilled manpower to cope with the soaring demand, the report said.
The need to ensure service quality to international guests is essential for a sustainable industry in the long term.